Were you bitten by a dog in Jacksonville? If so, you may be wondering if you can sue the dog’s owner for your damages. After all, dog bites can lead to a trip to the emergency room, surgery, scarring, permanent disfigurement, and in serious cases, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), especially when the dog attack was severe or involved a child.
In this article, we discuss Florida’s dog bite law and what a dog bite victim can do if they have been attacked by a vicious dog.
Dog Bites: Florida is a Strict Liability State
Florida’s dog bite laws are covered under Section 764.04 of the Florida Statutes, dog owner’s liability for damages to persons bitten. Under Sec. 764.04, it reads: “The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”
However, if the person bitten was negligent and his or her negligence was the reason for the biting incident, it then reduces the dog owner’s liability by the percentage that the person’s negligence played a role in the incident in question.
For example, if a teenage boy was visiting his girlfriend and he started poking the family dog hard with a big stick as the couple was in the girlfriend’s backyard, and the dog eventually bit the boyfriend, the fact that the boy provoked the dog could reduce the dog owner’s liability.
Are There Any Exceptions?
We mentioned above how under Florida’s dog bite law, dog owners are liable for damages suffered by victims in most instances, but there is an exception. Unless the victim is a child under the age of 6 or the dog owner clearly committed a negligent act that led to the dog bite, a dog owner is not liable if he or she had prominently displayed on their property a sign that had the words, “Bad Dog.”
As a general rule, when someone is bitten by a dog on someone’s private property, a personal injury claim is filed against the dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy. However, if the incident took place somewhere else, the lawsuit may be filed against the dog owner directly, but sometimes another insurance policy comes into play.